Interreg project URBFORDAN protects urban forests in the Danube region

Seven European cities in the Danube region joined forces under the URBFORDAN project to develop their forest areas sustainably. This ensured that flora and fauna can continue to thrive and that they remain spaces where locals and tourists can enjoy nature.

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An interactive display of all tree species on Golovec Hill, Ljubljana, Slovenia, created during the URBFORDAN project ©Nik Rovan, 2020 An interactive display of all tree species on Golovec Hill, Ljubljana, Slovenia, created during the URBFORDAN project ©Nik Rovan, 2020

" ‘By implementing the URBFORDAN project and adopting urban forest development strategies, Ljubljana and six partner cities are preserving the cities' green lungs, thus ensuring that urban forests will be properly managed and remain places for recreation and education.’ "

Maja Bovcon, Unit of Green Areas Management and Public Space Cleaning, City of Ljubljana

Each participating city provided its own pilot area where sustainable forest management practices were tested and new facilities installed. These were Golovec hill in Ljubljana (Slovenia), Hármashatár hill in Budapest (Hungary), Făget forest in Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Danube Island in Vienna (Austria), Grmoščica hill in Zagreb (Croatia), Avala in Belgrade (Serbia) and Vovchynets hill in Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine).

The project cities installed nature trails, new equipment, facilities and educational displays, and cooperated on strategic plans for their forests. National forest management organisations from Croatia and Slovenia provided expertise. The project lead partner, the city of Ljubljana, was Green Capital of Europe 2016.

Protecting green lungs

URBFORDAN stands for ‘Management and Utilisation of Urban Forests as Natural Heritage in Danube Cities’. The seven cities have about 35 km2 of urban forest. These spaces are vital for residents to take a break from the often frantic pace of city life, recharge and connect with nature.

But with a combined population of almost 6.5 million people and over 15 million visitors every year, these green lungs are coming under pressure. This requires cities to find new ways of managing their urban and peri-urban forests to balance the need for recreational spaces with the preservation of biodiversity.

Catering for all ages

In Vienna, a nature trail was developed with interactive information areas for children and adults. In Cluj-Napoca, a series of educational and recreational activities were provided for school pupils. Other, cost-effective measures to support conservation included setting up new litter bins and 'insect hotels'.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project 'URBFORDAN – Management and Utilisation of Urban Forests as Natural Heritage in Danube Cities' is EUR 2 788 566, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund, European Neighbourhood Instrument and Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance contributing EUR 2 370 281through the Interreg “Danube Transnational” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period.

Draft date

03/11/2022